Alphabet Inc.’s Google has launched a pocket-sized digital camera that decides on its own whether an image is interesting enough to shoot.
Called Google Clips, the US$249 device is designed to clip onto furniture or other fixed objects and automatically captures subjects that wander into its viewfinder, Reuters reports.
But unlike some trail or security cameras that are triggered by motion or programmed on timers, Clips is more discerning. Google has trained its electronic brain to recognize smiles, human faces, dogs, cats and rapid sequences of movement.
The company sees big potential with parents and pet owners looking to grab candid shots of kids and animals.
The Clip shoots seven-second videos, without audio, that can be edited into GIFs or high-definition photos. These images can then be downloaded and shared via smartphone.
With the Clips smart camera, Google is trying to hook shutterbugs with a soft introduction to artificial intelligence.
Clips, which was announced in October, is the outgrowth of years of research into what people like about their favorite images, according to Google.
Consumers overwhelmingly preferred candid shots as opposed to ubiquitous selfies and other posed photos. But casual photographers often cannot whip out their phones in time to catch the action. And many subjects become self-conscious when they know a camera is pointed their way.
“There is gold in between the photos you take” with smartphones, Juston Payne, product lead for Google Clips, told reporters. “This camera gets at those moments.”
Payne said his team had no mandate to develop a stand-alone camera. They could have packed more software into smartphone cameras, for instance.
But he said a dedicated device that could fade into the background proved to be the best solution for naturalistic photography.
Measuring 2 inches by 2 inches and weighing two ounces, Clips can be hung from a drawer handle or a tree branch at the playground. Payne said the gadget is not meant to be worn.
The camera captures the best shots when subjects are about three feet away and in its frame. It operates three hours on a charge.
Clips is being sold at Best Buy and Verizon retail outlets as well as Google’s online store.
Google says it attempted to address privacy concerns by placing white lights on Clips to alert subjects when the camera is filming. It also intentionally avoided giving the camera a direct connection to the cloud.
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